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Managing the Unmanageable

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Keep Your Culture Positive!

Keep Your Culture Positive!

Which is more effective to improve team performance: positive feedback or constructive criticism? a positive culture or a negative one? The answer: both. The real question: in what proportion? The answer to the proportion question, from new research by Michigan doctoral student Emily Heaphy and team productivity consultant Marcial Losada: The ratio of positive-to-negative statements […]

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Colleges: Teach the “How”!

Colleges: Teach the

We’re at an inflection point. Agile practices transitioned over the last couple years from “emerging” to “predominant”. Companies are sampling if not wholesale adopting agile, from scrum and extreme programming to lean and kanban. Our study of product team productivity due out later this month documents an increase to 76% of teams incorporating at least […]

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Remote Pair Programming

Remote Pair Programming

I’ve been enamored of remote pair programming since briefly leading development at Socialtext, where no three developers were in the same locale. Socialtext was committed to agile approaches including pair programming (but not including colocation, I might note!). Being distributed, remote pairing was the way forward. Pair programming is controversial in being possibly the most […]

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What makes product teams great?

What makes product teams great? What if you were able to name just five things that: if you don’t do them, you have just a 2% chance of high level team performance if you do all of them, you have a 67% likelihood of high level team performance Last year’s Study of Product Team Performance […]

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Better cross-functional collaboration, trust and communication

Better cross-functional collaboration, trust and communication

In 2012’s Study of Product Team Performance, respondents were asked what they would change about the core product team. “Better cross-functional collaboration, trust and communication” was their number-one response. (You can participate in this year’s study. See below.) I was struck by how closely that aspiration aligns with a step that management took 15 years […]

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Motivating (and not de-motivating) Programmers

One of the great “aha”s for me as a manager was realizing that motivating people – and not de-motivating them – are two different things. It was years ago – I think I was at Apple. One of my colleagues shared a Harvard Business Review article from the 1980s that recounted Frederick Herzberg’s work in […]

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“PM”s

I am repeatedly in conversations with someone who refers to “PMs”. And I have to figure out which kind of PM they’re talking about. Take this sentence from a recent email: “…designed for executives, managers, PMs, BAs, developers, testers – essentially anyone in the software development value stream.” Or the recent email with the subject […]

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Could we make managing programmers a little easier?

Could we make managing programmers a little easier?

Programming managers have typically had years of training in programming… And no training in management. I’ve been taking a fascinating census of programming managers this fall that has shown me just how true that is. As I talk about our book Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams to […]

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Orchestrating Software Development

Orchestrating Software Development

For years, I’ve been pointing development and project managers to the full-length documentary, Tom Dowd & the Language of Music. (It’s rentable via Netflix, purchasable via Amazon.) Every time I watch Tom Dowd, I’m struck by how closely producing music resembles leading software development. Tom Dowd, an innovative music producer and recording engineer for over […]

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